Bipolar Jacket

Lamictal (lamotrigine)

Lamictal, also known by its generic name lamotrigine, is a medication used to treat bipolar disorder. It is an anticonvulsant drug that is believed to work by regulating the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly glutamate and serotonin.

Lamictal is commonly used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, particularly in the maintenance phase of the illness. It can be used alone or in combination with other medications, such as mood stabilizers or antidepressants, depending on the specific needs of the patient.

The use of Lamictal in bipolar disorder is typically started with a low dose that is gradually increased over time, in order to minimize the risk of side effects. The goal is to find the lowest effective dose that can help stabilize the patient’s mood and prevent the recurrence of manic or depressive episodes.

Dosages of Lamictal

The dosage of Lamictal (lamotrigine) for bipolar disorder can vary depending on the individual patient and the severity of their symptoms. The dosage may also depend on other factors, such as the presence of other medical conditions, the use of other medications, and the patient’s age and weight.

In general, the starting dose of Lamictal for bipolar disorder is usually 25 mg taken orally once daily for the first two weeks, followed by a gradual increase in the dose over several weeks. The maintenance dose is typically in the range of 200-400 mg per day, taken in divided doses.

However, the specific dosages may vary depending on the type of bipolar disorder and the presence of other medical conditions. For example, patients with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder may require higher dosages of Lamictal compared to patients with less severe forms of the disorder.

It is important to note that Lamictal should always be taken exactly as prescribed by a healthcare provider, and the dosage should not be changed without first consulting with them. Patients taking Lamictal should be monitored regularly for any side effects or changes in symptoms, and they should inform their healthcare provider of any concerns they may have.

Lamictal and Steven Johnson Syndrome

Steven Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare but serious skin condition that can be caused by the use of certain medications, including Lamictal (lamotrigine). SJS is characterized by the sudden onset of a painful, blistering rash that can spread quickly and may cause the top layer of skin to peel off in sheets.

While the risk of developing SJS from Lamictal is relatively low (less than 1%), it is a potential side effect of the medication. The risk of SJS is increased in patients who have a genetic predisposition to the condition, as well as those who are taking Lamictal in combination with certain other medications.

Because SJS can be life-threatening, it is important for patients taking Lamictal to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition, which include fever, sore throat, and a rash that spreads quickly. If any of these symptoms occur, patients should seek medical attention immediately.

To minimize the risk of SJS, healthcare providers typically start patients on a low dose of Lamictal (25 mg) and gradually increase the dose over several weeks. Patients should also be advised to stop taking Lamictal immediately if they develop any signs of a rash or other symptoms of SJS.

Other Possible Side Effects

Lamictal (lamotrigine) can cause other side effects in some people. Some of the most common side effects of Lamictal include:

  1. Headache
  2. Dizziness
  3. Nausea
  4. Blurred vision
  5. Insomnia
  6. Fatigue
  7. Tremors
  8. Rash
  9. Irritability
  10. Mood changes

Most of these side effects are mild and go away on their own as the body adjusts to the medication. However, some people may experience more serious side effects, such as:

  1. Stevens-Johnson syndrome (as discussed earlier)
  2. Aseptic meningitis
  3. Blood disorders
  4. Liver problems
  5. Allergic reactions

It is important to note that these serious side effects are rare, but they can be life-threatening. Patients taking Lamictal should be monitored closely for any signs of these side effects and should seek medical attention immediately if they occur.

It is important for patients to discuss any concerns they have about Lamictal with their healthcare provider, including any side effects they may be experiencing. The dose of the medication may need to be adjusted or a different medication may need to be considered if the side effects are severe or persistent.

Other Mood Stabilizers

Your doctor may choose a different mood stabilizer for bipolar. These may include:

You may also take antipsychotics or antidepressants as part of a medication “cocktail.” You can learn more about medications here: medications to treat bipolar.